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My little brown Newfoundland Ozzy turned into a giant bear of a puppy. He weighs 105 lbs and is 27 inches at the shoulder, and he's only 6 months old! However, the only thing we've had to train him not to do is jump up. That's pretty important, because he's strong enough to pull a full-grown man to the ground. That training has been pretty easy. Ozzy already made it through basic obedience training and is getting set for the intermediate class. He's very sweet and quick to learn, so training has been a breeze.

But then I brought home Murphy, the devil-Newfie! Well, maybe not devil-Newfie, but he's a counter-surfing fiend. Murphy is a black/white Landseer, and is another bundle of love with fur. While he's got a bit more puppy-energy than Ozzy, he's still laid back enough that he's not too much of a handful. Potty-training only took 9 days. The only serious problem is that he counter-surfs like it's the secret to life. My wife and I have cleared all the items that we can easily move off the tables, but we're worried about items like our rice cooker, which is back on the table on the kitchen island, but a place Murphy can still reach. He's 5 months old, but he's tall enough to put his entire front legs on the counter. My wife is seriously considering installing retractable gates at both entrances to the kitchen for safety. Currently we have it blocked off with portable gates, but this is a pain. 3

So, input please! Should we go with the gate installation, try to train the counter-surfing away, or maybe train the dogs to stay out of the kitchen entirely? Counter-surfing is not something I've ever dealt with on this scale, and my usual methods aren't working. I generally tell them to get off, then to perform some basic trick to avoid setting up a behavior chain, and then treat. Also, I try to keep tempting items off the table. Anyway, advice would be appreciated.
 

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I ended up gating off both entryways into our kitchen with this gate system. The link is just to the first site I could find on google with the gate I have, I found a much better price when I actually bought them and an extension as one entryway is about 6" wider than the other. They are easy to open and when set up just right will self close (the balance and pressure are hard to get perfect though for the self close/lock). We had to gate off our kitchen from Jubel because we don't have a pantry and use an open shelving unit for storage. Jubel eventually realized everything on that shelf was food and started pulling things off to eat. All the obvious food items were out of reach but he started getting into single serving apple sauce cups, a packet of uncooked rice, a box of pastaroni, etc. We simply don't have the storage space to keep EVERYTHING he could possibly get into out of reach so we gated the kitchen and problem solved.

Training is a possible option but once they KNOW the food reward is there/possible it's much harder to train away from trying to get it. Even more so if there are still accidents along the way. My guy is pretty respectful of boundaries and has never seriously tried to go over it or force through it, I think he could if he tried though. I was very surprised when the 9 pound chi/terrier mix 7 month old puppy I was foster sitting for managed to jump over it though haha. So it's effectiveness will somewhat depend on the dog as well.
 

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Training for counter surfing and other like behaviors usually goes ok when you are home with them, as you can easily redirect their behavior. BUT, when you aren't home, or they aren't in your direct sight, you can't redirect, and, if the "reward" is something they really want, that's usually motivation enough to go after it. The reward being whatever they want on the counter.

So, my vote goes more for management, rather than training on this one. I'd use the gates.
 

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We used a penny bomb. You put 4-5 pennies in a plastic water bottle, when the dog goes up on two legs to reach the counter you throw the bottle by the dog. (you are not trying to hit the dog - just throw it near them). It helps if the dog does not see you throw the bomb. We literally had to throw it 3x and the dog never counter surfed again.
 

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I say go for the gate. Its tough. they know where the food is and it almost impossible to stop--- My giant Schnauzer stole not just the steak-- but the frying pan they were cooking in...
 

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Id go for ACT of god training. and throwing a penny bomb is a good example. Or e collar training session.

My GSD did this, on a BBQ that was lit. Worked a treat! Burnt his paws and never jumped up to counter surf again. Our pohm is much more cunning. Waits till we leave and opens the fridge and helps herself! OOOOH! what a bitch. We gate for her.
 

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I would go for a combination of baby gate for when you aren't able to directly supervise and some training to at least minimize it on the off chance you do let the dogs in the kitchen. My internet isn't doing so hot or I'd give you a link....go to YouTube and search for Kikopup "Solving Counter Surfing". If you work on it long and hard you might not have to keep the baby gate for ever.
We did the kikopup training, it helped a ton, though we didn't go at it for as long as we should have...though she doesn't grab stuff any more (thankfully), we also had an act of doG, the burner was on and she jumped up...which she hadn't done in a long time while we were around, luckily she didn't get badly hurt, just some really warm paw pads, scared her off a bit!
 

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I'm still struggling with this and my dog is nearly 12 years old. When she was young (~1 year old), she learned to open her own crate from the inside. Doing that, loose in the house with no one home and no one yet the wiser, she discovered the joys of counter-surfing. And she's an absurdly food-motivated dog (she hates water, but once swam a little stream to snag some food she saw on the other side. On the grosser side, but although she's trained not to go into the basement and avoids it like the plague... she will extend herself partway down the stairs to reach cat vomit. And this is the dog I have to -carry- into the basement when I hear tornado sirens).

Anyway, I agree that simply preventing it is usually a lot easier than training it. It's a self-rewarding behavior, and if the dog even occasionally manages to steal a high-ticket item (like the steaks Candydb mentioned!)... the behavior perpetuates. So what I've found is a) Don't leave food out, especially not food the dog is likely to want (in my case, the cat also steals from the counters, so that's twice the reason not to leave stuff out); b) Be extremely suspicious when I hear toenails clicking on the linoleum. It usually means she's about to rear up and take something and is positioning herself. She only does it at all if she's not being watched, and that's mostly because her training against it has consisted primarily of "Akh akh akh!" when I used to be able to catch her now and then and positive reinforcement for ignoring things she obviously wanted on the counters.

I'm not sure if it makes me feel better or worse that, when I briefly took herding lessons with my dog, the instructor had a 14 1/2 year old BC who was still a horrible counter-surfer, and she had no particular advice beyond just not leaving stuff out.
 

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Training for counter surfing and other like behaviors usually goes ok when you are home with them, as you can easily redirect their behavior. BUT, when you aren't home, or they aren't in your direct sight, you can't redirect, and, if the "reward" is something they really want, that's usually motivation enough to go after it. The reward being whatever they want on the counter.

So, my vote goes more for management, rather than training on this one. I'd use the gates.
Yep, so I (re-)pounded it into Wally's skull with 200 reps a week of mat work (read: the throw rug already in the hall before the kitchen) and boundary training (teach him new landmarks of where rooms start and stop). Had to go through this again with the new floors (old boundaries he learned are gone now).

He can't counter surf (too short) but he'd just get in the way in the kitchen and isn't above scavenging the kitchen floor. I don't want him to hoover up a piece of onion or something that I missed cleaning up, etc.

I don't want to go any methods that scare him, due to his personality, and don't really want to spend any more money (I'm an el cheapo trainer), so it's repetitions constantly until he gets it. Luckily, I'm stubborn enough to make him get it, and bread is cheap and there's a whole bag of wheat Chex I don't want that can be broken up so... :)
 
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